Indonesian Fires Create “Hazardous” Levels of Air Pollution in Singapore

By Susan Minnemeyer

This post originally appeared on WRI Insights.

Fires in Indonesia continue to cause smog and haze across the region, with air pollutants reaching hazardous levels overnight in Singapore. As of 5am on September 25th, the country’s pollutant levels were the highest measured to date in 2015. At these levels, the entire population is likely to be adversely affected, and officials have already closed all primary and secondary schools until the situation improves.


The sudden rise in poor air quality is likely occurring due to a shift in wind direction that is transporting smoke and haze from land and forest fires in South Sumatra, Indonesia. The District of Ogan Komering Ilir continues to lead in the number of active fire alerts, with 423 high-confidence hotspots in the last week. As WRI recently reported, Indonesia’s forest fires have hit their highest point in at least three years, most likely due to illegal burning on agricultural and peat lands. The country saw more than 13,000 fire alerts last week alone. Continue reading

Leveraging the Power of the Crowd to Identify Illegal Land and Forest Fires in Indonesia

by Susan Minnemeyer

This article originally appeared on Insights

The land and forest fires burning across Indonesia spiked to historic highs this month, causing a thick haze of toxic smoke that enveloped cities across Indonesia and neighboring countries. Officials across the region have pledged to investigate the perpetrators of these fires and hold those responsible accountable.

new campaign from Tomnod and WRI’s Global Forest Watch platform allows people everywhere to aid in the investigation.

How It Works

Digital Globe has been collecting satellite imagery of the burning across Indonesia for major fire outbreaks this year, capturing massive land areas with potentially thousands of fires and burn scars that could be used as evidence in enforcement actions by police. The company is now making these images available on Tomnod, its crowdsourcing platform most familiar because of the search-and-rescue mission for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. The platform has enabled millions of people to contribute to humanitarian and environmental campaigns and to support disaster-relief operations.

The problem is that there are huge areas of imagery to examine on Tomnod platform. Tomnod staff say that just the current images (only a small fraction of what will be posted over the coming week) would take a single person up to 10 weeks to analyze. People everywhere can search the latest satellite imagery and “tag” every fire and visible burn scar. This will allow law enforcement officials to prioritize reviewing these tagged images, and more quickly identify and respond to illegal forest clearing.

Tomnod2.0_webready Continue reading

Land and Forest Fires in Indonesia Reach Crisis Levels

by Susan MinnemeyerTjokorda Nirarta “Koni” Samadhi and Nigel Sizer

This article originally appeared on WRI Insights.

Fire alerts in Indonesia have spiked dramatically in recent days, surging even higher than the crisis-level outbreaks of June 2013March 2014and November 2014. Satellite feeds shown on Global Forest Watch Fireshave recorded thousands of high-confidence fire alerts over the past two weeks, peaking at 1,189 on September 8th, exceeding the highest peaks of the last two years.


What’s the Impact?

Despite the fact the it’s illegal to burn forest in Indonesia (except for very small local farmers), burning is often used to clear land for agriculture and commodity expansion, or as a “weapon” in conflicts over land. More than half of the fires are occurring on carbon-rich peat soils, causing severe smog and haze. Pollution from the fires in the provinces of Sumatra and Kalimantan is leading to diverted and canceled flights and widespread health impacts. In the last week, the air quality index crossed into “hazardous levels” in locations across Sumatra and Kalimantan. At hazardous levels of air quality, the entire population is likely to be adversely affected, and this is considered an emergency condition. Thousands of people have been reported leaving Pekanbaru in Riau Province to escape record air pollution levels.


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Fires Heat Up as El Nino Develops – Growing Health Concerns as Haze Worsens

By Susan Minnemeyer, Lisa Johnston, and Tania Firdausy

Silakan membaca post ini di Bahasa Indonesia.

Indonesia fire alerts spiked to their highest level of the year yesterday, amid forecasts that the developing El Nino may be even stronger than the 1997-98 warming that led to Indonesia’s most catastrophic fire season. With 461 high confidence* fire alerts, today’s count is the highest since the peak of over 1,000 fire alerts reached on November 1, 2014. As the El Nino develops, even larger fire outbreaks are likely to develop.


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Brazil and Indonesia Struggling to Reduce Deforestation

By Mikaela Weisse and Rachael Petersen

This blog is part of a series featuring new data and analysis on global tree cover loss. Read the other blog here, or follow our presentations at the forthcoming World Forestry Congress.

New satellite-based data highlight the challenges of reducing forest loss in two of the world’s largest forest-rich countries.

Brazil and Indonesia, which have made significant efforts to reduce deforestation in recent years, both saw an uptick in tree cover loss in 2014, according to new data on Global Forest Watch from the University of Maryland and Google. Brazil’s rate of tree cover loss increased by more than 16 percent between 2013 and 2014, while Indonesia’s rose by 30 percent during the same time period, though the 3-year average changed less dramatically in both countries. Tree cover loss is the removal or death of trees, regardless of the cause and not accounting for regrowth and tree cover gain.

However, despite the uptick, new analysis shows that Brazil and Indonesia are accounting for less and less of the total proportion of tree cover loss in the tropics, as new hotspots emerge in Asia’s Mekong Basin, the Gran Chaco of South America, and West Africa and Madagascar. More than 62 percent of tropical tree cover loss in 2014 occurred in countries outside of Brazil and Indonesia, compared to 47 percent back in 2001 (read the full analysis here).

Still, Brazil and Indonesia remain important for their size and as major laboratories of forest policy. Below, we delve deeper into the data.

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